I’m so proud of my child.
Working in the Southpoint area, The Kid has a vast multitude of meal choices. From donuts to sushi, and everything in between. There are markets chock full of frozen meals and processed grub. Name a cuisine, identify a craving, and within a five mile radius, it can be sated.
Sometimes lunch is purchased or delivered. But the more often, much more preferred route is food that’s brought from home. Filling, healthy, inexpensive, meals.
About twice a month on a day off, The Kid goes shopping and buys all the provisions to make very large amounts of one or two dishes that will freeze well, and heat well in a microwave.
Both freezing and nuking have their own unique hazards.
When something freezes, its water becomes crystals with very sharp edges. These blades cut into the cell walls. This damages the structural integrity of the item, which can make it mushy. The more water in a food, the more shredding that will occur. Fruits and veggies with high water content do not hold up well. Raw greens, celery, citrus are a few of the items that don’t like the sub-zero. Thin dairy like custard, cream cheese and sour cream are also poor choices. Conversely, long-term freezing will dry out food. That’s the origin of freezer burn.
While a radar range can melt cheese in a flash, too much fatty dairy can separate, creating a greasy, unappetizing mess. Meat can get rubbery, and bread products can transmogrify into granite.
Store your meals in food-safe plastic containers. You can buy them from the deli, or pick up reusable bowls from the grocery aisle where the foils and wraps hang out. I hoard sturdier take-out vessels from Chinese restaurants. It’s wise to label and date each item. Extra insurance in the form of placing the packaged grub in a freezer zip-top bag before placing in the Frigidaire is smart.
During the last cooking marathon, The Kid made two items. One a roasted tomato bacon soup and the other a chicken risotto made with the ancient grain of farro. The recipe was adapted from RealSimple.com.
Slow cooker farro risotto
2 ¼ cups low-sodium beef broth
1cup whole farro
1pound cremini or button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced
1 3-inch piece Parmesan rind and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more grated for serving
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 cups baby greens, like spinach or arugula
Caramelize mushrooms and leeks in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pour in ½ cup white wine, and cook on medium-high until the pan is dry. Combine with the broth, farro, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, 1¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a 4-6-quart slow cooker. Top with the chicken.
Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 4-4 ½ hours or on high for 3-3 ½.
Discard the Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Using two forks, shred the chicken into large pieces. Stir in the butter, grated Parmesan, and baby greens.
Serve with additional grated Parmesan. Makes about 6 servings.
I’m not naïve, cooking from scratch takes time and effort. But your body, spirit, and bank account will all be healthier with each home-cooked meal. And to me, that’s a bargain.
Thanks for your time.